BlackBerry has a new smartphone out, and it is rich in features. But the biggest question raised by the BlackBerry Z30 is not about its specifications, but whether it can put BlackBerry back in the mobile device game. Is it too much, too late, or just what the company needs?
The Z30 comes with a roomy five-inch screen, stereo speakers, and a bigger battery. It is also equipped with a history of friendliness toward enterprise IT managers and security specialists. What it does not come with, however, is either of the two A’s that currently rule the mobile landscape: Apple or Android. This means the Z30 faces an uphill challenge, no matter how good it is.
Heavy on Features, Light on Splash
As Roger Cheng reports at CNET, the launch of the BlackBerry Z30 has been a low-key affair. This is a sensible choice; the launch of two new iPhones and the iOS 7 operating system is a tough show to compete with.
Instead, BlackBerry is hoping the Z30’s features and positive reviews will do the talking. The BlackBerry Z30’s most obvious feature is its roomy five-inch screen with a Super AMOLED. This is in keeping with the trend of high-end smartphones to approach “phablet” dimensions.
Less obvious but just as important are a 1.7 GHz processor, quad-core graphics, and a robust 2880 mAh battery, said to be the largest put into any BlackBerry. The company claims the battery is good for 25 hours of “mixed use.”
Batteries are not the most glamorous mobile-device feature, but they are one of the most important. Limited battery life is among the top complaints in the mobility era.
A Critical Moment
The BlackBerry Z30 is not just another high-end smartphone. Its launch comes at a crucial time for its maker. BlackBerry has been hit by weak sales of other devices with the BlackBerry 10 operating system. Reports that the company might be put up for sale alongside rumors of layoffs do not make for a cheerful backdrop to a product launch.
In some ways, the passage of time may work in BlackBerry’s favor. The image of the company as a has-been is fading. An entire generation of young users, raised in the iPhone era, hardly remembers that BlackBerry used to be hot. This puts BlackBerry alongside other break-in rivals, from Microsoft’s Windows Phone to Mozilla’s Firefox mobile operating system.
However, this still leaves the huge challenge of breaking in against the shared Android-Apple dominance of the mobility market. It is not just that these names are more familiar; more to the point, the Android and iOS operating systems claim the lion’s share of apps, and techies developing new apps are focused on the two leading brands.
The great hope of BlackBerry and its rivals for third place in the mobile OS market is that some device will generate a surprise and shake up the market. Will the BlackBerry Z30 be that device? We will soon find out.
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